Tag: I-73

Howard Spreading False Narrative of his Record in Campaign for Reelection

Horry County incumbent District 2 council member Bill Howard is another spinning creative reworking of history to influence voters in next week’s Republican Primary.
Howard tries to present himself as a council member who works for the people, but reading his campaign disclosure reports it is apparent that Howard is funded by the same developer and tourism cabal interests who also fund Mark Lazarus, Jenna Dukes, Johnny Vaught and Carla Schuessler to name a few.
In a recent mailer, Howard listed among his accomplishments, “Working hard to keep the budget balanced and keeping property taxes low. No increase.”
Howard is on record voting for the largest tax increases in Horry County history – 7.2 mils plus stormwater fee and road maintenance fee increases in 2015 and 7.5 mils and another stormwater fee increase in 2021. This is hardly the work of a council member bragging about “no increase.”
Howard listed another accomplishment as being “proactive in addressing flooding problems.” However, it its rating of the voting records of county council members on flood mitigation legislation , Horry County Rising rated Howard and Vaught tied for the bottom position.

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Cabal Candidates Continue to Ignore History and Promote their Own Version of Political Reality

The longer this campaign season goes on, the more outrageous the misrepresentation from the developer and tourism cabal candidates about their records become, demonstrating their total disregard for the voters they claim to want to represent.
Actually, the only voters cabal candidates really want to represent are the ones funding their campaigns with large amounts of cash. Those voters, of course, are not sufficient in number to get any candidate elected, hence the necessity to roll out the lies about themselves and/or their opponents.
The tendency of cabal candidates to create new history was on full display during an event held at the North Myrtle Beach Chamber of Commerce last week.
Five candidates attended the event. Incumbent county council member for Horry County District 1 Harold Worley and his opponent Jenna Dukes. For county chairman were incumbent Chairman Johnny Gardner, Mark Lazarus and Johnny Vaught. Each candidate was given five minutes to speak about the issues.
Gardner and Worley have been especially targeted for defeat by the cabal.

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Ken Richardson is the Only Candidate Who Can Beat Rice

Seven weeks remain until the Republican Primary to nominate a candidate for the SC 7th Congressional District.
At this point, the race basically breaks down to a contest between incumbent Tom Rice, Horry County School Board Chairman Ken Richardson and state Rep. Russell Fry, the three top fundraisers in that order.
Rice has been targeted for defeat by former President Donald Trump because of Rice’s January 13, 2021 vote to impeach Trump over his involvement in the January 6, 2021 events at the U. S. Capitol. Rice recently was endorsed by former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, although how that helps in a South Carolina election is beyond my comprehension.
Horry County School Board Chairman Ken Richardson is the only candidate in the race routinely speaking to groups of voters multiple times each week. Richardson is seeking the only endorsement that counts, that of the 7th District voters on June 14th.
Richardson has spent the last 14 months, since he announced for the race, meeting voters in a nearly continuous series of meetings throughout the 7th District.
Trump, in another of his recent virtually unexplainable endorsements, chose to back Fry at the behest of Gov. Henry McMaster and SCGOP Chairman Drew McKissick. Fry is basically an unknown outside of his small S. C. House district. But, Fry is a solid member of the RINO Republican establishment in the state. The Trump endorsement has failed to raise Fry in the polls or give any type of significant help in fundraising.
More to the point, Fry has been called Rice 2.0 by many Republican voters in the 7th District. Both are uninspiring speakers who rely on canned talking points, which is why voters have seen more television ads from the two rather than much actual face to face time. Both are tied to the Myrtle Beach Chamber of Commerce and the insistence on using local tax dollars to help fund the Interstate 73 project because they can’t get any from the federal or state governments.
Yet, with all the federal and state money thrown around during the Covid epidemic, neither Rice nor Fry was able to get more than a few million for the over $2 billion I-73 project.

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Developers, I-73 and a Déjà Vu Lazarus Candidacy

Recently Horry County Council unanimously approved changes to development density allowed in the Commercial Forest Agriculture zoning classification and former county chairman Mark Lazarus began calling developers looking for support for another run at county chairman.
Lazarus, then the incumbent, lost the 2018 county chairman race to Johnny Gardner in what was one of the biggest upsets in Horry County political history. And he lost it on his own merits, or maybe demerits, is a better term.
Lazarus is the former chairman most allied with the development community in the history of county government. As chairman, Lazarus convinced county council to purchase approximately 3,700 acres of undevelopable wetlands in the Carolina Forest area, at a cost of approximately $12 million taxpayer dollars, paid to a well-known Richmond, Va. developer. The excuse was the county needed to establish a wetlands mitigation bank for future road projects.
Since leaving office on January 1, 2019, Lazarus has been busy lobbying council members for a number of re-zonings of CFA land, especially in the Hwy 90 area.
I don’t know if Lazarus believes he can alter the changes to CFA density if he wins back the county chairman seat, but, considering the unanimous vote by council to change CFA density allowance and continuing pressure from the citizens to reject questionable development, it is not possible that he can.
After Gardner took over the chairman seat, he was able to convince council to institute impact fees on new development to help pay for the cost of new infrastructure and other capital needs associated with that development. Following the discussion among council members during its last meeting, those fees will be expanded to transportation and stormwater impact fees in the coming fiscal year to help pay for much needed upgrades to roads such as 90, 905. 701 and 9 and associated flooding mitigation efforts.
Lazarus preferred to raise property taxes and existing county fees, including leading the passage of the largest single property tax increase in county history in 2015, rather than promote an impact fee law counter to the wishes of his donors and supporters in the development community.

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Fry Kicks Off Campaign

House District 106 representative Russell Fry officially kicked off his campaign for the SC 7th Congressional District Republican nomination at an event last night.
Fry has finally criticized incumbent representative Tom Rice for voting to impeach President Donald Trump in January. It only took Fry seven months to finally take this stand and after eight other candidates, none of whom were afraid to criticize Rice immediately after his vote to impeach, already entered the race.
His announcement of the campaign event included the phrase, “That’s why I’m announcing my campaign for Congress on Thursday, August 5—to guard the faith, families, and freedom of our fellow citizens.”
That statement is nothing but political rhetoric and sounds like a sound bite paraphrasing Superman fighting for ‘truth, justice and the American way’ in the old 1950’s television show of the same name.
The announcement also stated, “Your Congressman should do more than simply use his vote to look out for our interests here at home.”
I submit the voters want a Congressman whose primary goal is to use his vote to look out for the interests of the citizens here at home instead of special interests and those same voters are not interested in sound bites but rather in solid pledges from a candidate.
One pledge Fry did make was about I-73 and seemed to be aimed at those special interests who have had their way in Horry County for too long.
Fry was quoted as saying, “I think it’s a meritorious project for families in and around here,” he said. “It is a public safety issue. It is a jobs and economy issue. It’s a connectivity issue. There are a lot of benefits that come from interstate access that would that would be great not only for the Grand Strand, but the entire Pee Dee region.”
That statement is standard phrasing about I-73 that we have been subjected to since a 2005 study of the “economic impact” of the project was first completed. It is a necessary ingredient to any campaign that hopes to attract support from the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce and its associated PACs as well as the special interests who expect to gain financially from any construction of I-73 within the county.

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Gagging of Al Allen Points to Deeper Issues in County

Last week’s premature adjournment of the county council meeting in order to gag council member Al Allen’s requested discussion of county legal fees allowed deeper issues inside the government and county to come to the surface.
A simple request from Allen for county legal fees paid to outside attorneys has been blown up into a supposed politically motivated conspiracy, according to a report in a local media outlet. Two “county officials” speaking on conditions of anonymity, according to the story, put forth a theory alleging a plot to fire County Administrator Steve Gosnell and County Attorney Arrigo Carotti was the reason for Allen’s request.
And make no mistake, the information Allen requested and which was ultimately provided to Allen, other council members (although many of those other members saw the information well before it was produced to Allen) and the media is definitely public information.
According to statements in local media, County Attorney Arrigo Carotti brought Allen’s request for the information on legal fees to council member Johnny Vaught. The excuse Vaught gave to the media was Carotti did that because the legal department budget falls within the oversight of the county Administration Committee of which Vaught is chairman.
Vaught told media he had concern that county legal strategies could be discussed and he didn’t want that sensitive information to become public. I would submit that type of information is already public.
If someone wants to assess legal strategy in any lawsuit, they can go online to the judicial records to read the complaint, response, motions and responses, depositions and view the exhibits associated with the case. All of that information becomes open to the public the minute it is filed with the court. A person is going to gain a lot more information about legal strategy from those documents than from records of how much in legal fees was paid and to whom it was paid.
Vaught’s entire premise that he was attempting to protect privileged information is ridiculous. But the ensuing rhetoric which evolved around the issue and the players involved point to deeper intent.
The real story is the one involving those who said the information requested by Allen should not be released publicly and who created a false narrative in an attempt to publicly embarrass Allen and, later, council Chairman Johnny Gardner.

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Myrtle Beach Cabal v. McBride in District 107 Primary Voting Today

Voters in House District 107 will again go to the polls today to determine who will be the new Republican nominee for the South Carolina House of Representatives seat from that district.

The special primary was made necessary when former representative Alan Clemmons resigned from his House seat five weeks after being nominated for his tenth term in office.

Clemmons had been looking for another government job for the past two years with no luck so he took the default position of raising campaign donations and running for nomination for his tenth term. It has been obvious that he would bolt from that seat when prospects of a much higher paying job was potentially in the offing. When he learned the Master in Equities judge position would be available next July, he resigned from the House to secure the one year lapse, required by state law, from service in the General Assembly to appointment to a judgeship.

There is one way Clemmons can prove me wrong with my above conclusion. I challenge Clemmons  to come out publicly with a statement that his affidavit to the S. C. Election Commission was truthful about resigning his seat in the House and his nomination to another term for non-political reasons, as stated in the affidavit, and that under no circumstances will he seek nor accept the position of Horry County Master in Equity, which would be a political appointment.

As soon as he decided to resign, Clemmons, in his own words, called his opponent in the June regular primary, Case Brittain, to notify Brittain of his decision and start the process that would make Brittain the choice of the Myrtle Beach cabal in the special primary.

Brittain was reportedly advised by Clemmons and Mark Lazarus to hire the cabal’s go to political consultant Walter Whetsell and his Starboard Communications for the special primary.

The choice tomorrow is between the cabal’s candidate, Brittain, and former Myrtle Beach Mayor Mark McBride.

Clemmons did the bidding of the cabal, securing passage of the enabling legislation for the Tourism Development Fee in 2009 and amending the original legislation to eliminate the ten-year sunset provision so the fee could be continued ad infinitum.

Clemmons was also a major voice pushing I-73 at the state level but was wholly unsuccessful in obtaining any construction grants from the state for the road.

Money for I-77, Where is Money for I-73?

President Donald Trump tweeted Thursday June 18th about $34.6 million appropriated from the federal government for a new interchange on I-77 in Rock Hill.

Where is an appropriation for I-73?

Trump’s tweet again highlights the inability of our elected representatives, many of whom were reelected at last week’s primary, to get any funding for their supposed number one agenda item.

Tom Rice, Alan Clemmons, Heather Crawford, Luke Rankin, Russell Fry, Dennis Disabato, Cam Crawford, Gary Loftus, Johnny Vaught, Bill Howard, Tyler Servant, Brenda Bethune – aren’t you all embarrassed and ashamed of your continuing inability to secure any funding for I-73?

Over the past year, each and every one of you has spoken of the importance of I-73 to the local economy and to the safety of our citizens.

All this announcement does is demonstrate your political impotence, both individually and collectively, to deliver funding from any source other than Horry County for the project you list among your top priorities!

Five of the above, Clemmons, both Crawfords, Disabato and Loftus were victors in recent primaries, guaranteeing their reelection in November. Two others, Rice and Fry, had no primary opponent and will have a virtual walkover in November. Four, Vaught, Howard, Servant and Bethune, will face reelection over the next two years. The lone remaining incumbent, Rankin, faces a runoff election next week.

Whether it be money for I-73, flood mitigation, other infrastructure projects or other needs to help the citizens of Horry County, the ‘Dirty Dozen’ incumbents mentioned above can’t deliver.

Even the development industry, which spent tons of money helping the reelection of these people has to be let down at this announcement. After all, I-73 would net immediate revenue for some of those and it would open up considerable land in the western part of the county for development, even though much of it probably shouldn’t be developed due to flooding and infrastructure considerations.

Despite their continuing demonstrated inability to accomplish anything positive for the area, the voters chose to send those up for reelection last week back into office.

This announcement is just another example of why that was a bad idea.

Weighing the Truth of Clemmons and Crawford Campaign Flyers

The truth of explanations for the campaign flyers sent out supporting the candidacies of Alan Clemmons and Heather Ammons Crawford, marked “Paid for by the SCGOP” and “authorized by” the respective candidates, in the races for SC House District 107 and SC House District 68 respectively, have been “weighed on the scales and found wanting”, as the Book of Daniel would say.

There have been three mailers each supporting Clemmons and Crawford marked “Paid for by the SCGOP” and “authorized by” the respective candidate. There must have been some polling showing both Clemmons and Crawford trailing their challengers for the SCGOP to take such blatant, biased actions in a primary election.

The Horry County Republican Party Bylaws specifically prohibit such action by party officials, ” Bylaws Section 1-A. Elected and appointed officials of the Horry County Republican party shall not endorse, work for, assist, or allow their name to be used in support of a Republican candidate who has opposition from another Republican candidate during a Primary or Run-off election.”

There is a very good reason for this prohibition. Primary elections are run by the parties. If an election challenge is made, it is heard by the Executive Committee of either the local or state party, depending on what office is involved.

In the case of Clemmons and Crawford, if the results of their elections are challenged, the challenge must, by law, be heard by the SCGOP Executive Committee, the same group that would have had to approve the sending of the mailers. How could there possibly be an impartial judgement from that committee considering they have already chosen their preferred winner?

I contacted the state party by email over two weeks ago asking why the SCGOP was involving itself in primary elections and who approved sending the mailers. To date, I have received no response.

Citizens or Special Interests – County Council Direction Will be Decided by June Primaries

The direction county council will take over the next several years will likely be determined by three contested races in the Republican Primary to be held on June 9, 2020.

Those three races are Horry County Districts 3, 4 and 6, currently held by incumbents Dennis DiSabato, Gary Loftus and Cam Crawford, respectively. Those three council members have consistently been stooges for the special interests in the county.

DiSabato, Loftus and Crawford were consistent “yes” votes for any initiative former council chairman Mark Lazarus brought to the table. The purchase of approximately 3,700 acres of wetlands off of International for $12 million of taxpayer money is one example that quickly comes to mind.

The parcel purchased by the county was part of a larger parcel purchased by a developer in Virginia years ago. The wetlands couldn’t be developed so the county purchased the land with the purported goal of establishing a wetland mitigation bank to be used when capital projects required mitigation credits for disturbing wetlands. No other parcel in the county was considered, no record of a request for proposals was sent out by the county.

The three stooges voted in lockstep to spend county money for land that was basically useless to the developer for the price of approximately $3,243 per acre.

After Lazarus was defeated for reelection, DiSabato, Crawford and Loftus were charter members for what I dubbed the Deep Six, council members who fought long and hard to keep former county administrator Chris Eldridge in office after Eldridge and county attorney Arrigo Carotti lodged groundless accusations of extortion against current chairman Johnny Gardner, who defeated Lazarus, Eldridge’s strongest supporter on council.

Anyone who watched the March 2019 special council meeting, called to remove Eldridge, will recall DiSabato launching into accusations against Gardner after an investigation by the State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) concluded the accusations were without any merit.

The three stooges voted not to fire Eldridge in March, ultimately costing the taxpayers of Horry County $350,000 when council voted to buy out Eldridge’s contract in April 2019 rather than firing him one month before.

DiSabato, Crawford and Loftus have been consistent supporters of having county taxpayers fund construction of Interstate 73. Constructing I-73 remains a major goal of special interests in the county who will benefit financially from construction of the road.